More civilians fled Sirte on Saturday, adding to the thousands who have already streamed out as fighting intensifies.
Accounts are emerging of increasingly desperate conditions for those still inside. There is no electricity while drinking water and food are running out, and people have spoken of the stench of rotting corpses at the city’s hospital.
“We wanted to advance but we are worried about the families that have not got out,” said anti-Gaddafi Field Commander Mohammad Hamuda, describing remaining residents as an “obstacle for us, because we don’t want them to be harmed.”
What happens in Sirte is crucial. A long drawn-out battle with many civilian casualties will breed hostility, making it difficult for Libya’s new rulers to unite the country once the fighting is over.